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Backpacking requires you to carry everything you need to survive for days or weeks at a time in a single pack on your back. While you’re out in nature on your journey, you’ll need to eat and hydrate. While you may find water, it won’t be drinkable unless you purify or filter it. Since you’re trying to shave every gram of excess weight for the lightest pack possible, you want a small filter that packs a big punch and won’t keep you held up trailside waiting forever for it to finish.

As avid backpackers, we wanted to know exactly which filters were the best choices to take with us on our next outing, so we’ve tested as many as we could and put them through the wringer out on the trail. The following reviews will compare 10 of the best filters for backpacking to help you decide which one is right for your next adventure.

The 10 Best Backpacking Water Filters:

1.Sawyer Squeeze Backpacker Water Filter Bottle – Best Overall

When you’re out on the trail, you need a water filter you can rely upon without any doubts. The longevity, lightweight, and reliability of the Sawyer Squeeze earn our recommendation as the best water filter for backpacking. Weighing in at just 2 ounces, you won’t even notice the addition to your pack. While other filters require replacement cartridges and more, the Sawyer Squeeze just needs backflushing, which can be done right in the field.

This filter will provide you with 100,000 gallons of clean drinking water in its lifetime. That’s the kind of longevity you can count on. If it gets clogged, backflushing is easy, though we recommend getting the bottle adapter to backflush with a water bottle instead of the included syringe.

When you finish cresting a summit, you’re often breathing hard, looking for a few gulps of refreshing water. We like to drink directly through this filter, so its high level of water flow meant it always provided enough water. Plus, we could fill up very quickly and get back on trail. No filtering needed when you fill up. Just get water in your bottle, screw your filter back on the top, and you’re on your way. All in all, this is the best backpacking water filter on the market this year.

2.Sawyer MINI Backpacking Water Filter System – Best Value

If you’re just getting into backpacking, you’re probably realizing just how much equipment you need to gather and how expensive it can be. You’re probably looking to save a few bucks wherever you can, so you can opt for the cheaper little brother to the Squeeze system in our top spot, the Sawyer Mini water filter. The Sawyer Mini is affordable and tiny, weighing just two ounces. It’s still a powerful filter though, filtering bacteria, protozoa, microplastics, and more down to 0.1 microns.

One of the things we loved most about the Sawyer filters is how versatile they are. You can use it in-line as part of a bladder hydration system. If you prefer, you can screw it directly onto a water bottle and drink through it that way. You can also use it as a gravity feed system, or even squeeze the water through the filter into a clean container like was originally intended. Like its big brother, the Sawyer MINI lasts for 100,000 gallons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t share the same level of water flow as the Sawyer squeeze, and we sometimes wished for more. But overall, we think it’s the best backpacking water filter for the money.

You'll find more details on the the best backpacking water filters, written by Pete Ortiz here.


October 20, 2023

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